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Hebraic heritage, Hebraic Roots, Jews by heritage, Judaism

Who is a Jew, according to the Torah? Part I

This subject is a hotly debated one, especially among the non-Orthodox Jewish groups, but I don’t really intend to discuss the politics of it very much. I want to simply explain the Torah stance, and demonstrate that it is the original Jewish definition.  It’s a shame  that in the past Inquisionists, pogroms organizers and most recently horrible events like WW II lead by people like  Stalin or  Hitler knew who was a jew  without a doubt !!

We know only  half of  what really  happened and had happened through history  but one thing is for sure,  Patrilineal jews, one-jewish parent jew, jewish blood , ethnic jew or hint of jewish descend were not spared, they all were murdered.  If we go by birth any.. hint or drop of jewish blood makes you linked to jew heritage or are  we more jewish than King David a guy with a mixed lineage?  or  Joseph’s children or Mose’s children? Are we more jewish than they were?

According to Wikipedia, the definition of who is a Jew had varied according to whether it is being considered by Jews based on normative religious statutes, self-identification or by non-Jews for other reasons.  Because Jewish identity can include characteristics of an ethnicity, a religion, and citizenship, the definition of who is a Jew has varied, depending on whether a religious, sociological, or ethnic aspect was being considered, particularly since the early 19th century schism.

According to ultra orthodox halakha, the oldest normative definition used by Jews for self-identification, a person is matrilineally a Jew by birth, or becomes one through conversion to Judaism.

But adherence to this definition not only is not biblically correct but  it has been challenged since the emergence of the Karaite sect, emergence of modern groups in Judaism since the 19th century, and the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. Issues that have been raised reflect:

Child’s non-Jewish mother: i.e. whether a child born of a non-Jewish mother should be considered Jewish through the father’s Jewish identity. ( Mose’s kids for instance)
Conversion: i.e. what process of conversion other than the normative orthodox procedure should be considered valid.
Historical loss of Jewish identity: i.e. whether a person’s or group’s actions (such as conversion to a different religion) or circumstances in his, her or community’s life (such as being unaware of Jewish parents) should affect his or her Jewish status. — ( Playboy a porno magazine was started and still belongs to some ‘Cohen’ )
Diaspora identity: identity of Jews among themselves, and by non-Jews throughout the Jewish diaspora.
Claim to Israeli citizenship: the examination of the three previous issues in the context of the Basic Laws of Israel.

The Torah or Biblical Valid point:

There are historical Jewish communities that dispute the matrilineal tradition. Karaite Judaism, for example, traces Jewishness by patrilineal descent, basing this practice “on the fact that, in the Bible, tribes are given male names and that biblical characters are always referenced by their fathers’ names. The Torah goes by G-d of Abraham , Isaac and Jacob ( not their wives) and so on.  Joseph’s children were jews because of him, not their Egiptian princes mother. ( Manases and Ephraim). The same for Mose’s children and King David.

Jewish by birth

According to current  halakha a child is not Jewish if the child’s mother is not Jewish. The ruling they use is derived from various sources including Deuteronomy 7:1-5, Leviticus 24:10, Ezra 10:2-3. so according to this Moses’ kids, Jose’s kids and King David  himself  can’ t be  jews.

 All branches of Orthodox Judaism and Conservative Judaism today, maintain that the halakhic rules (ie. matrilineal descent) are valid and binding.

Reform and Liberal Judaism do not accept the halakhic rules as binding, and accept a child of one Jewish parent, whether father or mother, as Jewish if the parents raise the child as a Jew and the child fosters a Jewish identity, noting “that in the Bible the line always followed the father, including the cases of Joseph and Moses, who married into non-Israelite and non priestly families”. Reform rabbis in North America have set standards by which a person with one Jewish parent is considered a Jew if there have been “appropriate and timely public and formal acts of identification with the Jewish faith and people,” such as a Jewish naming ceremony, brit milah, or a bar or bat mitzvah ceremony. Because the Reform Movement uses a guidelines approach and its standards are not considered binding, they are understood and applied in different ways by different Reform rabbis and individual Reform Jews. The principle, in general, is understood to require a Jewish upbringing. The Reform movement’s standard states that “for those beyond childhood claiming Jewish identity, other public acts or declarations may be added or substituted after consultation with their rabbi”. Advocates of patrilineal descent point to Genesis 48:15-20 and Deuteronomy 10:15.

This policy is commonly known as patrilineal descent, though “bilineal” would be more accurate. The Reconstructionist position, and that of Liberal Judaism in the United Kingdom, is similar to that of American Reform Judaism.

There are historical Jewish communities that dispute the matrilineal tradition. Karaite Judaism, for example, traces Jewishness by patrilineal descent, basing this practice “on the fact that, in the Bible, tribes are given male names and that biblical characters are always referenced by their fathers’ names.”

The divergence of views has become an issue because Orthodox and Conservative communities do not recognize the Jewishness of a person if only the father is Jewish, even though accepted as Jewish by a Reform or Liberal community. For the person to be accepted as Jewish by an Orthodox or Conservative community (for example, on an occasion of their bar/bat mitzvah or marriage), they may require a formal conversion (in accordance with halakhic standards). Orthodox Judaism has a predominant position in Israel. Although Orthodox and Conservative Judaism do not recognize Jewishness through patrilineal descent, “it should also be noted, however, that in the case of a child born to a Jewish father but to a non-Jewish mother, most Orthodox rabbis will relax the stringent demands normally made of would-be converts”, and the Rabbinical Assembly of the Conservative movement “agreed that ‘sincere Jews by choice’ should be warmly welcomed into the community”.

 Converts to Judaism

Main article: Conversion to Judaism

All mainstream forms of Judaism today are open to sincere converts, with most subgroups accepting converts by the process accepted within the group, or through normative orthodox procedure. Conversely the orthodox groups do not accept conversions performed by other groups within the spectrum of Jewish identity due to variance in the conversion rules.

For Rabbinical Judaism, the laws of conversion are based on codes of law and texts, including discussions in the Talmud, through the Shulkhan Arukh, and subsequent interpretations that are held as authoritative by Orthodox Judaism and Conservative Judaism.[citation needed] Orthodox Judaism recognises only those conversions in which a convert accepts and undertakes to observe halakha as interpreted by the teachings of Orthodox Judaism. Because some non-Orthodox rabbis and some non-Orthodox denominations do not require that converts make this commitment, Orthodox Judaism does not accept as valid conversions performed by those non-Orthodox denominations.

Conservative Judaism takes a more lenient approach in application of the halakhic rules than Modern Orthodox Judaism. Its approach to the validity of conversions is based on whether the conversion procedure followed rabbinic norms, rather than the reliability of those performing it or the nature of the obligations the convert undertook. Accordingly, it may accept the validity of some Reform and Reconstructionist conversions, but only if they include immersion in a ritual bath (mikvah), appearance before a rabbinical court (beit din) and, for men, circumcision (brit milah) or a symbolic circumcision for those already circumcised (hatafat dam brit).

The requirements of Reform Judaism for conversions often vary from Conservadox Judaism ones. The denomination, the largest branch of Judaism in North America, states that “people considering conversion are expected to study Jewish theology, rituals, history, culture and customs, and to begin incorporating Jewish practices into their lives. The length and format of the course of study will vary from rabbi to rabbi and community to community, though most now require a course in basic Judaism and individual study with a rabbi, as well as attendance at services and participation in home practice and synagogue life.” Reform also note that “Reform, Reconstructionist and under certain circumstances, Conservative rabbis recognize the validity of conversions performed by rabbis of all branches of Judaism. Many Orthodox Jews, however, do not recognize non-Orthodox conversions since they generally do not adhere to Halakha”.

Although an infant conversion might be accepted in some circumstances (such as in the case of adopted children or children whose parents convert), children who convert would typically be asked if they want to remain Jewish after reaching religious adulthood – which is 12 years of age for a girl and 13 for a boy. This standard is applied by Orthodox and Conservative Judaism, which accept halakha as binding.

Karaite Judaism does not accept Rabbinic Judaism, and has different requirements for conversion, refraining from accepting any until recently. Traditionally non-proselytizing, on 1 August 2007, the Karaites reportedly converted their first new members in 500 years. At a ceremony in their Northern California synagogue, ten adults and four minors swore fealty to Judaism after completing a year of study. This conversion comes 15 years after the Karaite Council of Sages reversed its centuries-old ban on accepting converts.

 Jews who have practised another faith

In general, Orthodox Judaism considers a person born of a Jewish mother to be Jewish, even if they convert to another religion.( good luck for a Budda Jew??) does it makes sense? . Let’s keep  watching for that type of  nonsense and all we’ll get would be guys like  Jose Stalin ( born from orthodox  Jewish parents  here is a sum up, you and history can find out  the rest) .   Reform Judaism views Jews who convert to another faith as non-Jews in all respects. For example “…anyone who claims that Jesus is their savior is no longer a Jew…” [Contemporary American Reform Responsa, #68].

Historically, a Jew who has been declared to be a heretic (Hebrew: Minim מינים or notzrim נוצרים) may have had a cherem (similar to excommunication) placed on him or her; but the practice of communal and religious exclusion does not affect their status of Jewish birth. (See, for example, the case of Spinoza, a seventeenth century philosopher.)

Judaism also views as Jewish those who involuntarily convert from Judaism to another religion (Hebrew: anusim (אנוסים), meaning “forced ones”); and their matrilineal descendants are likewise considered to be Jewish.

Judaism has a category for those who are Jewish but who do not practice or who do not accept the tenets of Judaism, whether or not they have converted to another religion. The traditional view regarding these individuals, known as Meshumadim (Hebrew: משומדים), is that they are Jewish; however, there is much debate in the rabbinic literature regarding their status vis-a-vis the application of Jewish law and their participation in Jewish ritual; but not to their status as Jews.

A Jew who leaves Judaism is free to return to the faith at any time. In general, no formal ceremony or declaration is required to return to Jewish practices. All movements of Judaism welcome the return to Judaism of those who have left, or been raised in another faith. When returning to Judaism, these individuals would be expected to abandon their previous practices and adopt Jewish customs.

The same rules in principle apply to the matrilineal descendants of such persons, though some rabbinical authorities may require stricter proof of Jewish descent than others. Whether such persons are required to undergo a full formal conversion depends on the community and their individual circumstances. For example, a male who has had a brit milah, who has a general understanding of Judaism, but who has been raised in a secular home might not be required to undergo ritual conversion. However, a male who has not had a brit milah, a male or female who has converted to or been brought up in another religion, or an individual raised in a completely secular home without any Jewish education, in most communities, may be required to undergo a full ritual conversion. For full participation in the community (for example, to marry with the participation of a rabbi), they may be required to display sincerity, such as a declaration of commitment to Judaism.

Another example of the issues involved is the case of converts to Judaism who cease to practice Judaism (whether or not they still regard themselves as Jewish), do not accept or follow halakha, or now adhere to another religion. Technically, such a person remains Jewish, like all Jews, provided that the original conversion is valid. However, in some recent cases, Haredi rabbinical authorities, as well as the current Religious Zionist Israeli Chief Rabbinate, have taken the view that a given convert’s lapse from Orthodox Jewish observance is evidence that he or she cannot, even at the time of the conversion, have had the full intention to observe the commandments, and that the conversion must therefore have been invalid.

We’ll continue this post:  Who is a Jew, according to the Torah II?  is tradition above the Scriptures? According to orthodox tradition there is a mess , and Hitler and other anti-semitic folks too advantage of that !

Thanks a lot for the Torah, Hebraica enciclopedia and wikipedia.

I also suggest to subscribe or buy ” The holocaust Chronicle:  a history in words and pictures ” in case you need in-depth enlightment about  who is a jew  when it comes about  Israel.  I pay you to find someone that has been or was spared from death or bad fate  because ‘it was mixed, biracial or only a half jew.


About Orekh Schriftsteller

Orekh Schriftsteller. It is the online pen-name of author and Managing Director of DM Enterprises.


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